Monday, July 17, 2006

So this was interesting, a thing in Harper's about the right wing's strategies in forming the narratives they tell. It starts off slow, gets good with historical details, and ends up making sense in the end if you go into it already sharing it's political biases.

I'll tell you what wasn't interesting, what was kind of stupid, was this Lev Grossman thing in Time about how there's no literary voice of the generation. The best part is when it starts off listing the ages of authors as a way to dismiss people who were never nominated: Seriously I think that we all knew that Michael Chabon was pretty much writing exclusively for old people, specifically nerds. Really an awful piece of writing- The part where Zadie Smith gets cited but only almost, with the stipulation that she might not qualify because she lives in England- She's also a black woman and everyone else cited was a white man. But what's really important here is that she, at 30, is probably actually just outside the frame of consideration, in my mind.

Alex, when looking at the Paper Rad book, called that the art of this generation. I was like "they're older than us" but it's worth noting that they're still younger than Zadie Smith and at least I'm pretty sure the cultural reference points that are important are shared.

This should also come into play with the also-stupid-but-for-different-reasons Chuck Klosterman article about the lack of video game criticism.

Like I think it's important that Paper Rad (and cartoonist Bryan Lee O'Malley) are dealing with that detritus of video games in their art, their work that's not-prose-novels. Just from a position of if I were a cultural critic, what would I think is important in terms of shaping the lives of people alive right now. Or was important, in the past. There's important things that need to be taken into consideration with what people are dealing with- All cultural critics are thinking to say is 9/11, which is so fucking reductive and psychologically that happened after my personality was pretty much already formed. No one thinks to mention Columbine as a big thing but I thought it was huge at the time it occurred although post-high-school it seems less so, but maybe it taught some kids fear and empathy in a way that's shaped their lives.

But let's take, for the people that fell outside marketer's post-Douglas Coupland purview, the important formative stuff as happening from the late-eighties on. I don't know when to say the formative stuff ended. 9/11 maybe in terms of- that created a world that we now have to live with but seemingly cannot actually change. (This is why I started with that Harper's article, by the way- I like the idea at the end that a lot of people are just kind of over America.)

That means liberalism, by the way. Like, the way I think about it- Think of how much The Simpsons is imprinted on your brain, and how that's been there since childhood. There are other sitcoms that are important too- Thank you Seinfeld, for teaching me about unacceptable behavior. I mean I guess that's the mark of young people in general but my understanding of the show Diff'rent Strokes (I think- By the way, that show is an example of stuff around in the late eighties that didn't matter at all in terms of shaping the lives of people who are now in their twenties) is that that's not always the case. But I don't know- Maybe I am just a douchebag elitist in that in the same way I would think anyone conservative must have their head in the fucking sand, if they are young they are just completely out of step with the zeitgeist. (And not even because of the whole war equals killing of the nation's young thing, actually.) But I think of the formative stuff and I can't imagine- Like even growing up with rap so huge seems like it should maybe take the edge off racism a bit, which is so huge with conservatives.

I don't know, I'm not really that interested in that whole voice-of-a-generation bullshit but I felt obligated to comment on it as someone who's not a fucking old man writing for Time the criticial establishment- Why would that guy even think he would know who was speaking for the young people? God such an awful article. Also annoying is the similarity in tone for all the pieces he speaks for, the douchebag. All angry and whiny and snivelling, and by placing it in context, that is what he expects and seemingly wants from the future. I get the impression, vaguely, the a lot of the people producing good work now are producing work that's fairly gentle, possibly in response to how awful the global situation is, which is weird and maybe unlikely but I don't know: It seems like a lot of people are trying to be calm and buddhist and spiritual and communicate in their work, rather than just froths of rage and whininess. Maybe that's just like the calmness of living with the post-apocalypse and growing up without a feeling of entitlement.

By the way, I'm under the impression that the next Paper Rad book, the one that I think'll be out before the end of the year, will be like a collection of various previously released but in small-print-run minicomics and zines and whatnot.

No comments: